Ahem. Would *you* want to live in a tiny plastic cage with little ventilation? Probably not.

Most hamster owners are likely familiar with the two standard types of cages, the all-plastic enclosed cages, and the wire with plastic tray cages. (Though, others do exist, I'll get to those in a bit.)

All Plastic Enclosed Cages

These are generally a bad idea.

Wire Cages with Plastic Trays

These are typically your best bet.

  • Plenty of ventilation.
  • Usually have more space for your hamster to play.
  • It's much easier to clean them.
  • They can't chew on the plastic tray very easily, though they will chew the bars and make a lot of noise.
It should be known that hamsters are very noisy creatures, and it's pretty much impossible to avoid this. (That's why I keep mine in my sister's bedroom.. tee-hee.) Choosing the right cage will help, though, so when you're picking it out, ask about soundless wheels. Note that they probably won't stay soundless after they've been used enough, but at least you get some quiet time. Watch that your hamsters fur doesn't get caught in the wheel (happens frequently with teddy bear hamsters), and make sure the wheel is the right size. If one of the metal wheels gets really squeaky, grease it up with some non-toxic substance like vaseline, just use a very little bit and it should stop the squeaking.

Choose a large enough water bottle that the hamster won't run out every five seconds, alright? Water dishes are okay, but should be checked frequently to make sure they're clean, dirty water leads to disease.

The bottom of the cage should be lined with wood shavings, chips, or possibly corn cob pellets. Any of these will work, make sure whichever you choose is hamster-safe. Bedding.. well, some choose not to give any extra bedding to their hamster, but some sort of tissue (I use kleenex), works the best. Avoid those weird beddings they sell in stores, I've heard of one too many hamster deaths due to stomach blockage. "Tried, tested, and true", kleenex or toilet paper work best.

Lining the very bottom of the cage with paper towel before adding the shavings or whichever you choose, will help absorb odours and hamster pee. Newspaper can be used too, but your hamsters fur might get a little black from the print.

Try to buy a two story cage if you can, they love to climb, and that gives them more room. Granted, that gets expensive, but it's a one time thing. Take them out of the cage sometimes, they get bored too.

Be sure not to use soap when cleaning the cage, or any other substance that may be harmful if it somehow gets into your hamster's system. I suppose if you rinsed it REALLY well, it would be okay.. avoid it if you can.
A scared straight for hamster care.
Ummm, I have a guilty confession to make about All Plastic Enclosed Cages, and hopefully I can let others know of the dangers so the same things don't happen to them.

We had the Habitrail type plastic cage with various add-ons and accoutrements for our little Chrysanthemum's enjoyment, but we didn't clean the cage very much. Because hamsters also tend to stink, we kept poor Chrysanthemum in the little used nursery (pre-tadpole days, of course), and then in our five-year-old daughters' bathroom. They are good children, but were not very nice to our hamster.

They accidentally (we're sure it was an accident) spilled water into the cage and didn't tell anyone. . . several times.

Because it was mostly plastic, the cage didn't dry out very well, and let's just say that hamsters, being desert dwelling animals originally, don't take well to climates that very closely replicate England in the winter. She perished soon after, and we told the girls that she came to live on the ship with me, because we are cowardly parents and had just had a grandparent pass away. It didn't seem fair to heap on the guilt caused by murdering the family pet as well.

What you should bring away from this story:
Don't buy plastic cages, don't soak your hamster down, and remember that the hamster you buy as a family pet is ultimately your responsibility. You will have to live with the consequences of improper care.
IMHO, the best cage for your rodent is an aquarium.

1. They can't chew on it.
2. They can't climb it.
3. I put a wire mesh top on the thing, just in case it learned how to jump.
4. Its not too bad to clean.
5. Plenty of ventilation. You can just put stuff in there for them to play with....

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